The first to come was a giant of a man with tight-set mouth and so powerful a voice that it frightened Peter. He was not surprised to learn that this man was the leader of one of the most radical of the city’s big labor unions, the seamen’s. Yes, he was a “Red,” all right; he corresponded to Peter’s imaginings—a grim, dangerous man, to be pictured like Samson, seizing the pillars of society and pulling them down upon his head. “They’ve got you scared, my boy,” he said, noting Peter’s hesitating answers to his questions. “Well, they’ve had me scared for forty-five years, but I’ve never let them know it yet.” Then, in order to cheer Peter up and strengthen his nerves, he told how he, a runaway seaman, had been hunted thru the Everglades of Florida with bloodhounds, and tied to a tree and beaten into insensibility.
Then came David Andrews, whom Peter had heard of as one of the lawyers in the Goober case, a tall, distinguished-looking man with keen, alert features. What was such a man doing among these outcasts? Peter decided that he must be one of the shrewd ones who made money out of inciting the discontented. Then came a young girl, frail and sensitive, slightly crippled. As she crossed the room to shake his hand tears rolled down her cheeks, and Peter stood embarrassed, wondering if she had just lost a near relative, and what was he to say about it. From her first words he gathered, to his great consternation, that she had been moved to tears by the story of what he himself had endured.
Ada Ruth was a poet, and this was a new type for Peter; after much groping in his mind he set her down for one of the dupes of the movement—a poor little sentimental child, with no idea of the wickedness by which she was surrounded. With her came a Quaker boy with pale, ascetic face and black locks which he had to shake back from his eyes every now and then; he wore a Windsor tie, and a black felt hat, and other marks of eccentricity and from his speeches Peter gathered that he was ready to blow up all the governments of the world in the interests of Pacificism. The same was true of McCormick, an I. W. W. leader who had just served sixty days in jail, a silent young Irishman with drawn lips and restless black eyes, who made Peter uneasy by watching him closely and saying scarcely a word.
They continued to come, one at a time or in groups; old women and young women, old men and young men, fanatics and dreamers, agitators who could hardly open their mouths without some white-hot words escaping, revealing a blaze of passion smouldering in the deeps of them. Peter became more and more uneasy, realizing that he was actually in the midst of all the most dangerous “Reds” of American City. They it was whom our law-abiding citizens dreaded, who were the objects of more concern to the police than all the plain, everyday burglars and bandits. Peter now could see the reason—he had not dreamed that such angry and hate-tormented people existed in the world. Such people would be capable of anything! He sat, with his restless eyes wandering from one face to another. Which one of this crowd had helped to set off the bomb? And would they boast about it to him this evening?